Students Denied Education Forum
By Moon So-yeon
Global Student Reporter
Students' opinions have been ignored in forging an educational system. We can see one of example in the public hearing on English education policy last month.
The Presidential transition team said that it would hold a public hearing for discussing practical solutions for normalizing public education of English with education experts. But it was only open to criticism and one-sided arguments concerning composition and irregularities in procedure. Many people have said the team's public hearing was unfair and ignored the original meaning of a public hearing.
However, no one mentioned their neglecting students' opinions. The committee didn't think of students, who are the key players in education.
The government is also pursuing the college entrance system without listening to students. Many have been suffering from confusion and stress due to this neglect of student opinion. I also felt confusion as a high school student whenever the college entrance system was changed abruptly without considering students' situations.
Also, students' opinions have not been reflected in school, especially when schools establish rules regarding hairstyle, uniforms and self-study time. Teachers are forcing students to follow rules.
According to the Convention on Rights of the Child, member nations of UN shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
All people have freedom to express opinions without interference. Even a young child has th freedom of expression. But many Korean education authorities have neglected students' opinions and informed people of changes concerning the education system on the spur of the moment. And then they have forced students to compliantly adjust to new educational circumstances.
These circumstances confuse students and cause them to rebel by running away, drinking alcohol, smoking and even committing suicide. The government should listen to students' opinions to discourage such destructive behavior.
Some people say that parents can represent students but not many students think so. According to a survey, over 75 percent of students don't think that parents can represent them. Some say ``parents don't experience the educational circumstances of their children directly. Students' opinions should be reflected in a changing educational system in order to make a more practical and student-friendly educational environment.''
It is vital to consider students' opinions. Due to distorted Confucianism, some Koreans think that we have to follow seniors unconditionally, which is one of reasons adults don't place importance on students' opinions.
Of course people should show respect to their elders. True respect can only be formed under the condition that both juniors and seniors respect each other. If Koreans continue to think of unquestioned acceptance as real respect, a vicious circle ensues in which students are neglected by adults.
Schools and teachers should listen to students to end this vicious circle, developing education and teaching real participatory democracy.
Korea has no natural resources and the country is suffering from a shortage of manpower. Quality human resources are the only driving force for growth and survival in an age of global competition. Good educational circumstances are absolutely necessary to cultivate talented people. I hope the new government and teachers do their best to make practical education policies and circumstances that fit the demands of students.